The Doobie Brothers had a real simple goal for their first album in a decade.
"The main thing is you want somebody to hear the damn thing," singer Tom Johnston said. "You really want to get their take on it and make as many people as possible happy."
Judging by the response to "World Gone Crazy," the enduring band's 13th album and first since 2000's "Sibling Rivalry," they've achieved that goal. The album debuted at No. 39 on Billboard' album chart and has received excited reviews from critics since its release this fall.
Some bands are resting on their back catalog after four decades together, and the Doobies have quite the history with hits like "Black Water," "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Running" and "China Grove" — all still radio mainstays. But they didn't want to make an album just to make an album.
The band, which now includes founding members Johnston and Pat Simmons and longtime cohorts John McFee and Michael Hossack, labored over "World Gone Crazy" for three years, the longest they've spent recording an album. They paid their own way in the studio this time and that afforded them the kind of freedom they'd never experienced before — the freedom to be perfectionists.
"We ran into a couple of songs, personally me speaking for myself, I said 'This is not what I had in mind'," Johnston said. "So we went back in and got it where it needed to be. That's the blessing of taking the time. At the time it didn't seem like a blessing, but in hindsight I'm glad it took this long. Now that we got here, wow, it came out a lot better than we ever thought it would."
The Doobies went back to the future on the album, bringing in former producer Ted Templeman. Templeman worked on some of the band's best albums in the 1970s, but hadn't collaborated with the Doobies as a group since 1983. They also brought in former lead singer Michael McDonald and Simmons' good friend Willie Nelson to guest on songs.
The band members experimented with new recording techniques that weren't around the last time they put together an album, even employing drum loops on a few tracks. In the end the album was a highlight for a band that has achieved a lot of them.
"We appreciate it," Simmons said. "I know I do personally because I have a lot of friends in this business that have fallen on some hard times and here we are out still making a living playing and having fun."